As soon as I began telling people I was pregnant last summer, everyone I knew who had kids started telling us, “It’s the most incredible thing in the world. You will never know how much you can love anything until you see that baby.” Every time they would say it, my HusBon and I would agree with them, nod, and smile. I was screeching on the inside. I was the most miserable pregnant person you’d ever met.
“Oh, I’m suuuuuuure. Can’t waaaaaaait. It’s gonna be amaaaaaaazing,” I’d gush, secretly rolling my eyes at what I thought was over-dramatized emotion on their part. After all, I loved my husband, I loved my friends, I loved my family. Yes, yes, I get it. I will love my baby, my daughter, my child. Love love love. Love is all you need. Jeez.
I was completely unprepared for the entrance of this tiny gurrrrlll into my life. Now, let me back up a second. Lightning didn’t strike at the hospital, necessarily. I
carried carry a lot of guilt and shame regarding my birth experience. I immediately clicked into auto-pilot in the hospital, dutifully changing diapers, nursing around the clock, receiving our well-wishers, taking the “obligatory” 24 hours postpartum-body selfie (SO FUCKING RIDICULOUS).
Even the first few weeks at home were a haze of breastfeeding sessions every hour or two hours, so painful, that my husband had to pinch a pressure point on my hand to distract me from the nursing pain. I loved my daughter, of course, but I was feeling a bit…mechanical. My only goal was making sure she was fed, clean, comforted, happy, thriving.
Once I turned the corner at 8 weeks postpartum, I was feeling better. My thrush had gone away, so nursing was no longer like having my fingernails slowly pulled out. She was looking at me. She smiled at me. She rolled over. We were co-sleeping. She whimpered in her sleep, reaching for me, comforted once she felt I was there. All of a sudden it hit me. THIS WAS MY BABY. MY…BABY. I lost it. I held her in the darkness, while she was sleeping, tears coursing down my face, whispering,
It was YOU, the whole time, in there. It was YOU. I wish I’d known it was you.
See, now, that is how I fell in love with my baby. And you know what? It’s the most incredible thing in the world. I never knew I could love anything as much as I love her. I worry about everything now. I worry about the world in which she will grow up. I worry about her first skinned knee. I worry about someone saying something mean to her. I worry about some boy hurting her precious little heart. I worry about how she will be so sad when Beedoo and Fenway pass away when she’s in high school.
So with this great love, comes great responsibility. How is it possible that I am ready for this task? I am an “older” first-time mommy, 34 years old, plenty of life experience, completely aware of how I do NOT want to be. I just want to be the best mother I can possibly be. I want my daughter to be nurtured and protected, yet aware and smart. How on earth am I supposed to be able to do this?!
Every time the anxiety chokes me, my baby is my anti-dote. Her sweet face, whether grinning at me or placidly asleep, heals me. I thought I was supposed to take care of her, help her, make her feel safe? She does exactly that for me. There truly is nothing like this in the world, this… this Baby Love.